ParlyBeat

ParlyBeat is a digital newsletter published by The Dullah Omar Institute’s Women and Democracy Initiative, in collaboration with the Parliament Watch Collective. ParlyBeat aims to expand the range of people who are reached with news and information regarding the legislatures.

ParlyBeat makes links between the policy and oversight processes taking place in committees in the legislatures and the lived realities of ordinary people. Through this it aims to increase public scrutiny of the performance of the legislatures, increase access to information on key social justice issues, and also promote increased engagement by a broader range of the public with the work of legislatures.

The publication Includes news analysis and feature articles as well as reflections from Parliament Watch members and relevant information to increase knowledge of and access to the legislatures. The newsletter’s content can be republished by media outlets subject to certain conditions of a creative commons licence.

ParlyBeat will be published every second Thursday, and people can subscribe via email, or follow ParlyBeat on Facebook and Twitter.

The articles can be republished subject to certain licensing conditions.

ParlyBeat is published with the support of the Open Society Foundation. The views expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the DOI or the OSF.

Latest from ParlyBeat

On Watchdogs that need teeth
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

Questions in Parliament is one of the few ways MPs can use to hold the executive accountable. The efficacy of this oversight mechanism however, depends on the extend the executive answers and if they are present during oral question time or in committee meetings. This is not just important for oversight but also transparency as principles of for good governance. Ministers often come under fire for dodging questions. The DA last year took aim at former Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini who they claimed failed to answer 93% of the questions relating to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

Police failing domestic abuse victims? Counting the costs of SAPS non-compliance
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

For the past three reporting periods between 2016 and March 2018, not a single police station visited by the SAPS’ Civilian Secretariat has fully complied with the Domestic Violence Act. In terms of this Act, the SAPS must report biannually to Parliament on complaints received against police officers who don’t properly implement the Act and the steps taken against them. Beyond the grim nature of domestic-violence statistics, the costs of non-compliance are often high and can have life-or-death consequences on a victim.

Beneficiaries want to be heard over Sassa-woes
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) last week expressed confidence that the Post Office’s (Sapo) next pay-out of social grants at end of September will be “much smoother”. Many beneficiaries however, are still confused over the transition process and some called on MPs to hold public hearings where they can express how the transition impacts on their lives. From October Sapo will take over grant pay-outs from the former service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). Sassa said in the statement that Sapo already paid beneficiaries R4,4 billion through 7,4 million transactions by 3 September. Sassa CEO Abraham Mahlangu described Sapo’s progress as “impressive” given the volume of September’s pay-outs and the number of beneficiaries it managed to migrate to the new gold Sassa card.

Civil Union Bill gets committee's go-ahead
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

The Civil Union Amendment Bill recently got the go ahead from Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs when it recently adopted a motion of desirability on amending the Civil Union Act. many hailed the Act passed in 2006, as a big victory for the LGBTQ-community as it extended marriage rights, albeit in the form of a civil union, to same-sex couples. The euphoria over the Act was short-lived as it did not necessarily mean a happily ever after for many same-sex couples who got turned away from certain branches of the Department of Home Affairs.

Money and political will needed to tackle child murders
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Feb 23, 2018

Amidst the backlash against the budget tabled in Parliament this week as “anti-poor”, an answer to a Parliamentary question revealed that often money alone is not enough to address serious social ills. Political will is just as crucial to put systems in place to achieve the very thing budgets are intended for. This in turn will require rigorous monitoring by citizens and civil society of budget spending and its impact – something that will hopefully improve with the new Vulekamali initiative for greater public input in budget processes.

Calls to include patient voices for needs-based health budgeting
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Feb 23, 2018

The budget tabled in Parliament this week, does not address a crumbling health system, certain civic organisations warned. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced a R205 billion budget for health in the new financial year that is set to increase to R240,3 billion.

Funding of shelters for abused women is still uncertain post-budget
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Feb 22, 2018

Social protection is an important safety net for the poor yet not all will benefit from this. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba this week delivered his budget speech in Parliament and announced the government’s plan to increase its spending on social protection from R193.4 billion in the next financial year to R223.9 billion by 2021.

Impressions from Parliament
Author: Jay Kruuse
Published: Feb 22, 2018

This week South Africans got a glimpse into the state of South Africa’s finances and how it will affect their pocket when Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivered his budget speech in Parliament. Some have since labelled the budget as a “betrayal” and an “insult” to the poor. This backlash raises interesting questions on the level of public input in the budget. Very few ordinary South Africans get proper insight into the budgetary process or meaningfully participate in what is often a very complex process. This was highlighted recently in the Open Budget Survey 2017 showing South Africa may lead on budget transparency but disappoints in fostering public participation in the budget process.

Abortion Bill set to spark fierce debate in Parliament
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Dec 18, 2017

From next year Parliament will be the battleground for a renewed standoff over the conditions under which pregnancies may be terminated. ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley’s Private Members Bill on the proposed amendments to the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act has already been slammed by rights groups and gender activists calling it a setback for women’s reproductive rights. Dudley, however, told ParlyBeat this “panic is unnecessary”.

NEWS ANALYSIS: Oversight no gentleman’s game
Author: ParlyBeat
Published: Dec 18, 2017

As Parliament this month gives itself the usual pat on the back for the “activism and responsiveness” displayed in the more than 1 400 committee meetings held this year, questions remain on how effective it exercised its oversight role in burning issues like irregularities in the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa).

#Notourleaders: Parties given until February to respond to sexual harassment questions
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Dec 18, 2017

Political parties were given a deadline of 1 February 2018 to respond to questions regarding internal sexual harassment policies and the number and outcomes of sexual misconduct complaints they have received. This followed the #NotourLeaders Campaign that recently put the spotlight on political parties’ handling of sexual misconduct complaints against members and government officials. It was found parties’ responses are often “insipid, sluggish and inconsistent”. The drivers of the campaign – the Dullah Omar Institute’s Women and Democracy Initiative, gender activist Lisa Vetten and Lawyers for Human Rights – are now calling for more decisive leadership and for policy gaps to be addressed.

Grant beneficiaries saved by the Court – again
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Dec 18, 2017

Opposition MPs have welcomed a recent court order that averted another grants crisis in the social security agency (Sassa) and spared Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini another national embarrassment. This time the crisis loomed for foster care grants. This is the second time the courts had to intervene to ensure continued payment of grants. The DA and IFP also vowed to ensure legislation is amended for a more sustainable solution to foster care grants in the country when Parliament reopens next year.

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